Posted in Anecdote, Colloquial, Couch Talks, Daily Life, Foreign cultures, Lifestyle, Spain, Tales of My Adventures, Visiting Spain

Spring and Window Shopping in Spain: Malls and Fashion trends

Hola Cttbies!

¿Qué tal? (How are you?)

It’s spring! (At long last). The weather is great here (an average of 20°C). The spring breeze is so sweet here, and the birds chirp so beautifully during the day!

On the other hand, it’s also good if you’d like to have a quiet trip, because there is less touristic affluence and hassle. I must say, the best months to visit Spain are March to early June, or September to mid November.  In summer it’s too hot, especially in August the temperature goes up to 40°C , and there blows a hot wind from the desert that is completely unbearable; in December to January it’s too cold and windy, not the best time either. All year long, it’s like the god of fire and the god of ice fight all year long in Zaragoza.

Busking at Paseo IIndependencia, one of the main streets in Zaragoza’s town center.

From 24°C to 11°C on the same day,  Spring is the time of what I call “quitaipón de ropa” (remove and wear clothes). Temperatures in my town are very unstable, with very high differences in intervals. at one moments you’re sweating buckets and at another, you’re freezing. The wind here (the infamous “Cierzo”) is mortal so you can catch a cold if you let your guard off.  It’s advised to take a light coat with you even if you don’t end up wearing it. Yesterday on my way home, I couldn’t walk properly because the Cierzo kept pushing me from behind. That’s how strong it is!

When the weather gets warm like this, I feel like I’m reviving after a long slumber. I’m in a good mood nowadays, and so are many others, seeing how the streets are busy with plenty of people. The covid 19 incidences have lowered so the authorities lessened the restrictions.

What a better way to celebrate than to go to window shopping or visit a mall?

I am mostly working from home nowadays, so every chance to go out is fine. I met up with a friend and we paid a visit to Puerto Venecia, the most beautiful shopping center in Zaragoza. Built in 2012, it caught the hearts of thousands of buyers and even caused the death of one of its predecessors, Plaza Imperial Mall, which was deserted. Puerto Venecia is bigger, more beautiful, closer in distance and even has a pond with Koi fishes. Sorry, you can’t beat that. The other malls luckily survived because they’re close to the town center and, very importantly, because one can’t go to the same mall all the time. We humans need variety…

This time, I only went window shopping because the economy is kind of low (Ahem). My heart was breaking as I saw all those beautiful things from afar… But still, I had a lot of fun. Actually, I’ve never laughed so much at clothes in my life. The fashion here is a bit peculiar, usually a lot of colours with a touch of eccentricity. Trend wise here, youth clothing is gradually turning Kpop-inspired or anime-inspired. It seems kanjis and dragons are in season. and nowadays, teens here are into colourful bob cuts or “anime skirts” (my bad, I don’t know the exact name).

In the perpetual quest for creativity, some brands went a bit overboard this year. I took some pictures of the clothing I found the most bizarre… Ahem… striking (pictures below). After a long, harsh year, maybe they’re trying to lift our mood… I’ll just take it that way. I just hope they’re confortable to wear…

Is it Spring where you live as well? How is it in your country?

Warm regards, and wishing you a wonderful week!

Posted in Daily Life, Foreign cultures, Identity and Culture, Lifestyle, Spain, Tales of My Adventures, Trips

Spanish ravishing strolls: discovering the city of Zaragoza

Hola CTTBies!

I hope we are all doing well, and that we’re all safe!

In today’s post I will be sharing more about an important aspect of Spanish social life: the art of taking strolls. I’m also taking you on a visual tour of Zaragoza, the town were I live!

In a previous post, I mentioned that Spaniards spend a lot of time in social interactions, and therefore, it’s very common to come across “improvised hangouts”. It does not necessarily refer to parties or meetings over meals. Spaniards also spend a lot of time outside their flats, walking, chatting or just having fresh air. Their cities are designed for that purpose. For example, in my town Zaragoza, there are a lot of public spaces of various sizes: parks, squares, green spaces or playgrounds between buildings. There are always public benches on every street. You can see families with kids, lovey-dovey couples, young people chatting with their friends, eating snacks or listening to music, or old people getting fresh air. It was really funny for me to that even the University’s park is visited for the same purposes and even to walk their dogs. 

They also go for “tapeo” which is going from bar to bar eating “tapas” (snacks or hors d’œuvre) and having a drink.

On weekends, after church, I like walking home. I sometimes take a detour to enjoy the view. There are days when my  friends tag along. We walk, enjoy the view, sit or squat somewhere for a while, there continue wherever our feet lead us too. If we’re hungry, we go to any supermarket nearby and grab some snacks to keep us company. My town is small and very safe, so we stay out until our legs give out (before Covid-19 started, sometimes till 1 or 2 am ).

There’s always something new to discover, or things that capture our attention… We have a local saying here: “Zaragoza te enamora” (Zaragoza makes you fall in love). Indeed, I have been here for years, but it is constantly fascinating.

After the Filomena snowstorm left us covered in white, San Valero’s strong wind gushes nearly blew us away, and now… Valentine came with love in its wings. The weather is pretty more merciful these days. We’re transitioning to spring so the average max. temperature is 14°C.

As it’s getting warmer and warmer, talking strolls around the city becomes even more agreeable. It is pure goodness to see the trees bloom and to feel the sweet rays of the sun slowly warming up… I love Spanish Spring very much, I feel like I‘m reviving after the harsh winter.

I know it’s still far, but as the tropical bird that I am, I can’t wait for summer to come.

Warm regards,

Nuna Blomevi.

“Expo” Zone

Valdesparterra” and “Arcosur” residential areas

I recorded traces of the Filomena snowstorm on my Youtube channel
Posted in Colloquial, Fiesta, Foreign cultures, Spain, Tales of My Adventures

Spanish Holidays: Celebrating San Valero

Hola CTTBies!

This weekend we celebrated Saint Valerius Day -Valero in Spanish- the patron of Zaragoza. More festivities! Long Live Spain! Hurray! Feliz día de San Valero, rosconero y ventolero ! (I’m flexing my linguistic skills). I said in my previous article that this post would be quirk… I’ll skip the conventional way of describing commemorations and just write it my own way (already grinning out of excitement). There I go!

Background story: Spain is an exclusively Catholic nation (official stats say 90% of the population, but truth is, many don’t really believe or they hardly go to church. Anyway… I’m just saying). The country is divided into different regions called “autonomous communities”. They are all independent, it kind of works like the federal states in the US. Each of them is also divided in provinces. So, I live in the autonomous community of Aragon, in the province of Zaragoza. Each province has a patron, which is a saint that is dedicated to them. So, Zaragoza’s patron is Valero, who was a bishop some centuries ago.

San Valero (picture retrieved from the Internet)

Personally, I have observed that religious events here don’t exactly hold a pious connotation among the population, especially the younger generations. They’re more perceived as an occasion to eat and be merry (99% party, 1% devotion). I was shocked that the biggest outdoor concerts are held at the city’s main square, right in front of the town’s biggest cathedral…

Why it is celebrated: Now, this funny. There are holidays where even the natives don’t know what the occasion is about. The feeling is just like: “Fiesta! Another day off! We get to stay home or hang out, hurray!”. As I mentioned in one of my previous articles, here every good excuse is an approved reason to relax and lounge around. As a foreigner, I have fully adapted to the local habits… 

So, I’ve been here for years, but I still don’t know why we celebrate San Valero. The only half-convincing answer I got was: “Oh, it’s because he’s our patron”. So I was like “yeah, what the heck did he do for that to happen, I mean, any great accomplishment?” I didn’t get any satisfying reply so I requested help from the greatest assistant of all times: the Internet. Thus; according to Wikipedia, he was a bishop, he got exiled, then he died somewhere else, then he got canonized (a.k.a, consecrated by the Church as a saint).

Long story short: I still didn’t get what he accomplished to receive that title… 

Plot twist: After an eternity of research, I finally got more info on one of our local malls’ website , Gran Casa. In summary, I discovered that it was because he was a martyr who got persecuted for his faith under the roman emperor Diocletian.

Fun Fact: the natives came up with this comic motto for him: “San Valero, rosconero y ventolero!”. It means, on his day he brings a strong wind and also a lot of “roscon” (a typical dessert). It’s true somehow; apart from the dessert specially sold in pastry shops for the occasion, yesterday was very windy!  By the way, Aragon is a mountainous region which is infamous for a strong and sudden wind gust called “Cierzo”. It blows unbelievably fast, all year long. A local joke says that in Zaragoza  it’s no use to do your hair nicely and it’s dangerous to wear a skirt.

I have personally experienced the cranky mood of this ill-tempered wind. I was walking on the street one day; the Cierzo was blowing so strong that I couldn’t move forward because it kept pushing me in the opposite direction. 

Special food: Spaniards make a special pastry or dessert for almost every holiday. Most of the time, it’s a “roscon”, a sort of big donut-looking bread filled with whipped cream and topped up with candied fruits. They made it for Reyes Magos (6th Jan.), for San Valero (29th Jan.), they’ll make some for Santa Agueda (5th Feb.) and then for Cincomarzada (5th March. It’s the same cake but they change the shape: the first two are donut-like, the third is shaped like a breast and the last one as a 5 (for now I’ll skip the story behind each of them).

(picture retrieved from the Internet)

How we spend the holidays:

For main holidays, concerts, parades or other cultural events are organized. If it’s a religious occasion, a huge procession is organized. For San Valero, they bake a huuuge, endless roscon and place it at Plaza del Pilar, Zaragoza’s main Square.

(picture retrieved from the Internet)

On apersonal level, Spaniards are highly social individuals. They usually gather among relatives for family lunches or meet up with friends. Thanks to their awesome culture, I have become an expert at improvised get-togethers. It’s easy: get some snacks, some drinks, a TV and call as many people as you can. Everyone brings something and we all share. The key to success: be in good company with fun people. (Important detail: here, it’s good manners to bring something with you to give to your host when you get invited somewhere! It can be food or drinks, or a dessert).

Not in the mood for socializing? No problem. My personal recipe: Stay home, eat your favourite food, binge-watch TV and sleep as much as you want. Repeat.

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the holiday was pretty lowkey, but I was able to meet up with a friend. We wanted to go to the mall but got there too late so it was closed. We rather went for a stroll by the Ebro River (pictures below). The view was absolutely amazing and the weather so agreeable (aprox. 19°). We also enjoyed an small outdoor gallery designed by local artists to retrace the history of comics in Spain .

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this article.

Stay safe, and see you in my next post!

Nuna Blomevi.